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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Connecting our roots : holistic health research with Boston Bar First Nation revitalizing traditional plant knowledge and building education capacity using an integrated community-based participatory action research approach Martz, Sarah Antonia


Connecting Our Roots (COR) is based within a collaborative research partnership between the Boston Bar First Nation (BBFN), the UBC Institute for Aboriginal Health (UBC IAH) and the Faculty of Land and Food Systems (FLFS). It was the Boston Bar First Nation who approached UBC IAH and wanted to address their community health concerns holistically through revitalizing traditional plant knowledge and usage. As a graduate student I started working with BBFN in fall of 2003 and lived on the BBFN reserve for 3 summers from 2004 to 2006. During this time the participatory research process unfolded summarized as three main parts: process, plant research and transformation. Process involved building a culturally appropriate research environment (CARE) through an integrated Indigenous and academic research approach and the development of a local code of research ethics. This was the foundation for community and university-based plant research that included documenting local plant knowledge and inspired laboratory analysis on the chemistry, biological activity and nutritional analysis of Tseweta (Lomatium nudicaule), a traditionally used plant with contemporary importance in Nlaka'pamux and other Indigenous communities. Over the three years the transformative element of the research evolved resulting in local actions, including culturally contextual summer youth programs. These summer programs supported the revitalization of local plant knowledge and usage and intergenerational knowledge transmission. They also facilitated building cultural, social, economic and health capacity, as well as local research expertise. Tangible outcomes of the plant research combined with the youth education programs included the creation of an interpretive traditional plant trail, a community herbarium, a greenhouse initiative, and several community publications. Overall, the Connecting Our Roots research initiative was successful in supporting BBFN's self-determination, built local research capacity, created new knowledge on Tseweta, and through its transdisciplinary and participatory research approach created meaningful and transformative research outcomes.

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